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Visiting a U.S. City? Go Transit

SmarterTravel

If your spring and summer travel plans include a big city, presumably you don’t need or even want a rented car, and you probably don’t want to pay for taxis everywhere you go. So check the transit options. Fortunately, transit systems in many big cities offer a variety of all-day and multiday transit passes that allow you to use buses, light rail, subway, and even suburban railroads without having to pony up a separate fare every time you want a ride. Many cities offer senior deals, although you may have to obtain special senior ID. Here’s a rundown of the options available in 10 of the top domestic destination cities. In most cases, the qualifying age for seniors is 65; a Medicare card is accepted as senior ID for fare payment or senior ID card.

Chicago: Chicago Transit Authority; Metra

Subway base fare is $2.25 per ride and $5 from O’Hare; bus is $2 per ride. Unlimited subway and bus pass is $10 for one day, $20 for three days, and $28 for seven days. The one-day pass pays off only after five rides; the three-day pass is a better bet. Senior fares are approximately half off; register for the RTA reduced-fare permit at around 200 centers in the area. The subway serves O’Hare and Midway.

Metra suburban rail fares are based on distance; unlimited weekend pass is $7 (no weekend service on some routes). Senior fares about half off; RTA permit required.

Las Vegas: RTC; Las Vegas Monorail

Bus base fare (on “residential routes”) is $2 and $5 for a 24-hour pass. Half price for seniors; apply at transit office for the special ID card. Bus along the Strip is $6 for two hours, $8 for 24 hours, and $20 for three days (no discounts).

Monorail base fare is $5. Unlimited pass is $12 for 24 hours, $22 for two days, $28 for three days, $36 for four days, $43 for five days, and $56 for seven days; no discounts. Monorail is more fun but less convenient than the Strip bus.

Los Angeles: Metro

Subway, light rail, and bus base fare is $1.50. Unlimited day pass is $5. For senior travelers 62 and over, day pass is $1.80 and single ride is 25 cents during off-peak times; requires Senior TAP card available in advance by mail (forms online).

New Orleans: RTA

Streetcar and bus base fare is $1.25 (40 cents for seniors). Unlimited one-day pass is $3, $9 for three days.

New York City: MTA

Subway and bus base fare is $2.50; senior fare is $1.25. Unlimited seven-day pass is $30.

Long Island and Metro North Regional rail base fares are based on distance; seniors pay 50 percent of peak fares (about 33 percent of off-peak fares). People-mover plus Long Island or subway serves JFK, people-mover plus heavy rail serves Newark.

Portland: TriMet

Light rail and bus base fare is $2.50, $1 for seniors. Unlimited one-day pass is $5 ($2 for seniors); $26 for seven days ($7 for seniors). Light rail serves airport.

San Diego: SANDAG

Light rail and bus base fare is $2.50 for rail, $2.25 for bus; half price for seniors 60 and over. Unlimited one-day pass is $5, $9 for two days, $12 for three days, $15 for four days; one-day pass including heavy rail is $12.

San Francisco: SFMTA; BART; Caltrain

Light rail and bus base fare is $2, 75 cents for seniors. Cable car is $6. Unlimited pass including cable car is $15 for one day, $2 for three days, $29 for seven days.

BART fares are based on distance; seniors get 62.5 percent off. Caltrain fares are based on distance, with day passes double one-way fares; seniors pay half price. BART serves the airport.

Seattle: SoundTransit

Light rail and bus base fares are $2 to $2.80, depending on distance. Fare for seniors is 75 cents; requires ID issued in advance or online. Day passes cost twice one-way fares. Light rail serves airport.

Washington: WMATA

Regular subway fares are $1.70 to $5.75 per ride, based on distance and peak/off-peak times; $1 extra per ride without preissued SmarTrip card. Bus base fare is $1.60 with SmarTrip and $1.80 without. Senior discounts are roughly 50 percent off and require Senior SmarTrip card, issued on arrival at Metro Center station. Subway serves Reagan/National airport.

Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, seniors travel free on subway, light rail, and bus and for $1 per ride on regional rail within Pennsylvania.

Ed Perkins Seniors on the Go is copyright (c) 2014 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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